Can You Eat Weed? All You Need to Know About Marijuana Edibles
By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD
Marijuana — colloquially called weed — refers to the dried flowers, seeds, stems, and leaves of the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica plants (1).
It's a popular drug used by millions of people either for pleasure or to treat chronic health conditions.
Weed can be used in a number of ways, but some of the most popular methods include smoking and vaping.
However, some people wonder whether it's safe to eat marijuana and whether ingesting it has the same effects as smoking or vaping.
This article explains whether it's safe to eat weed and the health effects — both positive and negative — related to ingestion.
Can You Eat Marijuana?
The short answer is yes, you can eat weed. In fact, marijuana-infused foods and drinks have been consumed throughout history, as far back as 1000 B.C. (2Trusted Source).
Marijuana was used as medicine in ancient China and India and was introduced to Western medicine in the early 19th century. Edible applications, such as tinctures, were prescribed to treat various conditions, from chronic pain to digestive disorders (2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).
Edible marijuana products were also used to relieve stress and induce euphoria, similar to alcohol.
Bhang, a beverage made from a mixture of the leaves and flowers of marijuana plants, has been consumed for centuries during religious festivals, such as Holi, a Hindu festival of love and color (3Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source).
In the United States, recreational use of edible marijuana products became popular during the 1960s, and today, many different types of edibles are available, both legally and illegally, depending on state laws.
For example, gummies, candies, chocolates, capsules, teas, and oils are some of the edible marijuana products sold in both legal marijuana dispensaries and through the illegal marijuana market.
Edibles enthusiasts also make their own weed products by infusing butter or oil with marijuana and mixing it into baked goods and other recipes.
Though you can eat raw weed, it won't have the same effect as consuming marijuana-based products, as marijuana has to go through a process known as decarboxylation to become activated (6Trusted Source).
Raw marijuana contains tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), compounds that must be exposed to heat, such as in smoking or baking, to turn into the active forms, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) (6Trusted Source).
Therefore, eating raw weed will not result in the same effects as consuming weed that has been heated, as in edible products like candies, tinctures, and baked goods.
Though you can't get high from eating raw weed, some health experts believe that eating it may offer some health benefits due to the wide array of plant compounds it contains.
Yet, research in this area is lacking, so the potential therapeutic benefit of raw marijuana is still unclear.
Weed has been consumed in various forms throughout history for both medicinal and recreational purposes. Though you can eat raw marijuana, it won't have the same effects as marijuana that has been heated.
Health Benefits Related to Edible Marijuana
Marijuana has many medicinal benefits and has been used to treat various ailments throughout history.
Today, edible marijuana products have a number of uses in the medical field and are becoming a more popular, accepted natural treatment in clinical settings.
May Benefit Certain Health Conditions
Edible marijuana products are often used to treat conditions, such as chronic pain, cancer-related symptoms, and anxiety.
Medical cannabis products can legally be prescribed in countries around the world, including Italy, Spain, Germany, and parts of the United States (7Trusted Source).
THC is one of over 100 active compounds — known as cannabinoids — in marijuana.
THC is the compound responsible for the psychoactive properties of marijuana products, including edibles, that may induce feelings of euphoria and relaxation (2Trusted Source).
Other compounds in marijuana, such as CBD, have been shown to have pain- and anxiety-reducing properties.
The powerful combination of therapeutic compounds in this plant makes it a popular natural treatment that effectively reduces symptoms of and eases pain related to various conditions.
Additionally, these products may significantly reduce pain and muscle spasms, relieve nausea and vomiting, enhance sleep quality, and improve depression and anxiety (9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).
In fact, pharmaceutical companies manufacture oral preparations of marijuana-derived treatments, such as Sativex, which is an oral spray prescribed to treat pain and muscle spasticity (12Trusted Source).
Though edible marijuana products are prescribed and used to treat many other ailments, such as digestive and neurological disorders, high-quality research in these areas is lacking.
Therefore, the full therapeutic potential of marijuana is still unknown (13Trusted Source).
Edible marijuana is used to treat symptoms related to various medical conditions, such as cancer and chronic pain. However, high-quality studies are lacking, so the full effects of marijuana products on health are still unclear.
Potential Side Effects and Downsides of Eating Weed
Though edible marijuana products may benefit many conditions, some potential adverse effects may occur.
The main issue with edible marijuana products is that it can be very difficult to determine an appropriate dosage. Concentrations of THC vary widely depending on different factors, such as where the product was made and the quality of the marijuana used.
Additionally, unlike smoking weed, edible marijuana products have a long latency period, meaning it can take a while — sometimes hours — for it to take effect.
When marijuana is smoked, THC reaches the brain and takes effect within a few minutes. The effects peak at around 20–30 minutes after smoking and begin to wear off within 2–3 hours (10Trusted Source).
In contrast, the psychoactive effects of edibles usually take 30–90 minutes to kick in. The high feeling lasts much longer and typically peaks at about 2–4 hours after ingestion (10Trusted Source).
The effects of edibles can last for many hours, depending on how much was ingested, as well as your body weight, metabolism, gender, and other factors.
The combination of the highly variable THC concentration and the long latency period of edible marijuana products makes them very easy to unintentionally overconsume, which can lead to unwanted symptoms, such as paranoia and impaired motor ability.
Additionally, though rare, there have been instances of cannabis-induced psychosis, a condition usually related to overconsumption of edible marijuana products that results in symptoms like paranoid delusions, extreme sedation, hallucinations, and confusion (14Trusted Source).
Other side effects related to edible marijuana products include dry mouth, sleepiness, and changes in visual perception.
Another concern is that edible marijuana products often resemble regular candies, cookies, and other baked goods, posing a risk for children, pets, and other adults.
In fact, between 2005 and 2011, marijuana-related calls to U.S. poison control centers increased by 30% per year in states that decriminalized marijuana. Many of these calls were related to accidental ingestion of edible marijuana products (16Trusted Source).
Edible marijuana products are difficult to dose and take a long time to kick in. They also resemble regular food products, which may lead to accidental ingestion.
Is Eating Weed Safer Than Smoking It?
Though smoking weed is not often considered harmful, research has shown that inhaling marijuana smoke can negatively impact health, similar to cigarette smoke.
Both cigarette and marijuana smoke contain toxins, such as ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, that may damage your lungs and increase your cancer risk (17Trusted Source).
Yet, scientists emphasize that it's unclear whether or to what extent smoking marijuana influences cancer risk, as many available studies are of low quality, and confounding variables, such as cigarette smoking, affect study results (19Trusted Source).
In contrast, edible marijuana products have not been shown to negatively affect lung health or cancer risk.
Therefore, if you're concerned about the possible health risks associated with smoking weed, you may want to use edible marijuana products as an alternative.
However, because most marijuana research focuses on smoking weed, the long-term health implications of consuming edibles are still unknown.
Nevertheless, ingesting marijuana is likely safer than smoking it.
Marijuana smoke contains toxins that may negatively affect health. Though edibles are likely safer, the long-term health implications of these products are still unknown due to a lack of research.
How to Enjoy Edibles Safely (and Legally)
Many people enjoy using marijuana products to relax and ease stress, while some take edibles to treat or improve symptoms of a medical condition.
Either way, it's important to use safe products and choose appropriate dosages to avoid unwanted side effects.
If you're interested in using edibles to treat a medical condition, your healthcare provider is the best person to consult to learn if medical marijuana is an option.
Depending on where you live, you might be able to get a prescription. In the United States, 33 states allow the use of medical marijuana. It has also been legalized in countries around the world, including Italy and Australia (20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source).
Some conditions that may warrant a medical marijuana prescription include chronic pain, anxiety, multiple sclerosis, terminal illness, and inflammatory bowel disease.
In contrast, recreational use of marijuana is illegal in many parts of the world, including most parts of the United States. Only 10 states, including California, Maine, Vermont, and Oregon, allow for the use of recreational marijuana products.
However, even though marijuana is legal to use in these states, it remains illegal at a federal level and is considered a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Schedule I substances are "determined to have a high potential for abuse" and are defined as having "no currently accepted medical use" (22).
Yet, many disagree with this classification, especially those who have seen firsthand that marijuana products offer powerful medicinal and therapeutic benefits for many people.
In fact, scientists have repeatedly questioned marijuana regulation, with some arguing that the current legal status is outdated and "thwarts legitimate research" exploring the potential of marijuana in the medical field (23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source).
Though both social and political views on marijuana are changing rapidly, for now, citizens must abide by the laws set forth by state and federal governments for the use of both medical and recreational marijuana.
Purchasing Safe Marijuana Products
When using edible marijuana for the first time — whether for medical or recreational reasons — it's important to do so safely.
Sticking to prescribed dosage and usage recommendations can help reduce your risk of potential negative effects related to overconsumption.
If purchasing edible marijuana products in a state where recreational use is legal, only purchase products from a licensed dispensary that you trust.
Licensed dispensaries are often required to have their products tested for safety and potency in state-accredited laboratories to be approved for sale.
However, testing protocols vary considerably from state to state, and some don't require laboratory testing (25Trusted Source).
It's important to note that marijuana bought from illegal operations or dispensaries that sell untested products can be contaminated with pesticides, mold, fungi, bacteria, heavy metals, formaldehyde, and other substances, which can pose serious health risks (26Trusted Source).
Dispensaries typically carry a variety of marijuana products with different concentrations of THC and CBD, which can be confusing for first-time buyers. Consulting dispensary staff is a smart way to find the best product to suit your needs.
The legality of marijuana varies, so the use of both medical and recreational marijuana products depends on where you live. Only purchase marijuana products from trusted sources and follow dosing recommendations carefully.
The Bottom Line
Edible marijuana products may offer various benefits, including reducing symptoms of chronic illnesses and anxiety.
Still, these products may cause side effects, react with common medications, and take a long time to kick in.
Depending on where you live, you may be able to use medicinal or recreational products legally. However, it's important to only purchase from licensed, reputable dispensaries that sell products tested for purity and potency.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
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Fireworks Can Trigger Flashbacks<p>Hyperarousal, a core component of PTSD, occurs when a person is hyper-alert to any sign of threat – constantly on edge, easily startled and continuously screening the environment.</p><p>Imagine, for instance, stepping down the stairs in the dark after hearing a noise; you're worried an intruder might be downstairs. Then a totally unpredictable loud sound explodes right outside your window.</p><p>For people with PTSD, that sound – reminiscent of gunfire, a thunderstorm or a car crash – <a href="https://theconversation.com/veterans-refugees-and-victims-of-war-crimes-are-all-vulnerable-to-ptsd-130144" target="_blank">can cause</a> a panic attack or trigger flashbacks, a sensory experience that makes it seem as if the old trauma is happening here and now. Flashbacks can be so severe that combat veterans may suddenly drop to the ground, the same way they would when an explosion took place in combat. Later, the experience can trigger nightmares, insomnia or worsening of other PTSD symptoms.</p><p>Those of us who set off fireworks need to ask ourselves: Are those few minutes of fun worth the hours, days, or weeks of torment that will begin for some of our friends and neighbors – including many who put their lives on the line to protect us?</p>
Who Else Is Affected?<p>Millions of others, though not diagnosed with PTSD, may similarly be affected by fireworks. <a href="https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics" target="_blank">One in five Americans</a> have an anxiety disorder, many with symptoms of hyperarousal. Also impacted are those with autism or developmental disabilities; they find it difficult to cope with the noise, or just the drastic change from life routines. Then there are people who have to work, holiday or not: nurses, physicians and first responders, who have to be up at 4 a.m. for a 30-hour shift.</p><h3>How to Reduce the Negative Impact</h3><p>There are ways to reduce how fireworks affect others:</p><ul><li>For those with PTSD, the unexpected nature of fireworks is probably the worst part. So at least make it as predictable as possible. Do it in designated areas during designated times. Don't explode one, for instance, two hours after the designated time window. And avoid setting them off <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jul/04/fireworks-ptsd-fourth-of-july-veterans-shooting-survivors" target="_blank">on the 3rd</a>. People are less prepared then.</li><li>If you're aware that a veteran or trauma survivor lives in the neighborhood, move the noise as far as possible from their home and give them prior warning. Consider putting a sign in your front yard noting the time you'll set the fireworks.</li><li>Remember, it doesn't have to be super loud to make it fun. Consider using <a href="https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/504964-its-time-for-silent-fireworks" target="_blank">silent fireworks</a>. And you don't have to be the one who lights the fireworks. Simply enjoy watching while your city or township does it safely.</li></ul>
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By Jeff Berardelli
For the past year, some of the most up-to-date computer models from the world's top climate modeling groups have been "running hot" – projecting that global warming may be even more extreme than earlier thought. Data from some of the model runs has been confounding scientists because it challenges decades of consistent projections.
International Effort to Evaluate Climate Models<p>For the past 25 years the international community has been evaluating and comparing the world's most sophisticated climate models produced by various teams at universities, research centers, and government agencies. The effort is organized by the World Climate Research Programme under the United Nations World Meteorological Organization.</p><p>Climate models are complicated computer programs composed of millions of lines of code that calculate the physical properties and interactions between the main climate forces like the atmosphere, oceans, and solar input. But models also go a lot further, incorporating other systems like ice sheets, forests, and the biosphere, to name a few. The models are then used to simulate the real-world climate system and project how certain changes, like added pollution or land-use changes, will alter the climate.</p><p>Every few years there is a new comprehensive international evaluation called the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP). In the sixth such effort, known as CMIP6 and now under way, experts are reviewing about 100 models.</p><p>Information gleaned from this effort will act as a scientific foundation for the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) next major assessment report, scheduled for release in 2021. The goal of the report – the sixth in 30 years – is to inform the international community about how much the climate has changed, and, importantly, how much change can be expected in coming decades.</p>
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In the above CarbonBrief interactive visualization, the bars offer a comparison in the range of sensitivity in the CMIP5 models (gray) and CMIP6 models (blue).
New and Encouraging Evidence Is Emerging<p>At first, scientists were uncertain whether the new model runs were on to something, so the international modeling community dug in to produce multiple studies. The results are not yet conclusive, but a gradual collective sigh of relief seems to be materializing.</p><p>"Evidence is emerging from multiple directions that the models which show the greatest warming in the CMIP6 ensemble are likely too warm," explains Dr. Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.</p><p>For example, <a href="https://www.earth-syst-dynam-discuss.net/esd-2020-23/" target="_blank">a study</a> released April 28 evaluated the past performance of the models making up the CMIP6 ensemble. The team assigned weights to each model based upon historical performance of their warming projections, weighing the poorer performing models less. By doing so, both the mean warming and the range of warming scenarios in the CMIP6 ensemble decreased, meaning the warmest models were the ones with weaker historical performance. This result supports a finding that a subset of the models are too warm.</p><p>That conclusion is supported by another new study evaluating one particular model – the Community Earth System Model (CESM2) – that showed greater warming. Using that model, the researchers simulated the climate in the early Eocene era, about 50 million years ago, when rainforests thrived in the Arctic and Antarctic. The CESM2 simulated a historical climate that seems way too warm compared with what is known about that era from geological data, indicating that the model is likely also too warm in its future projections.</p><p>Two other recent studies of the CMIP6 models being evaluated use clever analysis methods to <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.earth-syst-dynam-discuss.net/esd-2019-86/&sa=D&ust=1589209938203000&usg=AFQjCNHYwFB-1KqndGfJ4sXdrrm9DpbLaQ" target="_blank">narrow the range</a> of future warming projections and also <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/12/eaaz9549&sa=D&ust=1589209938203000&usg=AFQjCNEhKY1YZ19qgjSZ_hJM14JmzqXOXw" target="_blank">reduce the projected warming</a> of the CMIP6 models by 10 to 15%.</p><p>Through the intensive research spurred by the CMIP6 climate-sensitivity curveball, scientists have been able to turn a confounding challenge into a confidence builder, providing even greater certainty than they had before in both the abilities of the climate science community and in the computer models used. Moreover, the experience has helped unearth uncertainties remaining in the modeling process.</p><p>Experts conclude much of this uncertainty probably lies in the complexity of clouds. "We have been looking as a community at why the models with greater warming are doing what they are doing – and it's tied to cloud feedbacks in the southern mid-latitudes mostly," explains Schmidt.</p><p>In fact, <a href="https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/26/eaba1981" target="_blank">a new study</a> addressing the increased sensitivity was published in Science Advances stating, "Cloud feedbacks and cloud-aerosol interactions are the most likely contributors to the high values and increased range of ECS [sensitivity] in CMIP6."</p>
Understanding the Complexity of Clouds<p>It's long been known in climate modeling circles that cloud processes and interactions are a potential weak link for climate modeling. That reality has been brought front and center by the urgent challenges posed during this CMIP6 evaluation period, but the current evaluation of models also provides an opportunity for discovery and improvement.</p><p>Cloud complexity comes from the reality that clouds have a multitude of sizes, altitudes, and textures. Some clouds cool Earth by providing shade, reflecting sunlight back into space. Others act like a blanket, trapping heat and warming the world.</p><p>Given that about <a href="https://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/lookingatearth/icesat_light.html" target="_blank">70% of the globe</a> is covered by clouds at any given time, it's no surprise that they play an integral role in regulating the climate. The challenge is to figure out which types of clouds will increase, which will decrease, and what the net effect will be on cooling or warming as the climate changes.</p><p><a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41561-019-0310-1" target="_blank">One study</a> last year reached an alarming conclusion: Left unchecked, the release of CO2 into the atmosphere may lead to a tipping point where shallow low clouds disappear – leading to runaway, catastrophic warming of nearly 15 degrees F. While scientists see that outcome as only a remote possibility, it drives home the urgent need to better understand clouds.</p><p>"We have a saying at NOAA: It isn't rocket science – it's much, much harder than that," quips Dr. Chris Fairall, ATOMIC's lead investigator. "One of the major problems for modeling is there is not clean separation of scales." The photo below is one that Fairall took from the NOAA P-3 aircraft.</p>
Investigating the Secrets of Clouds<p>To address the urgent question about the dynamics and role of clouds in a warming world, NOAA and European partners launched their ongoing research effort unprecedented in scale. The U.S. contribution, ATOMIC – short for Atlantic Tradewind Ocean-Atmosphere Mesoscale Interaction Campaign – is an international science mission that was featured recently on "<a href="https://www.cbsnews.com/video/study-aims-to-examine-links-between-climate-change-and-clouds/" target="_blank">CBS This Morning: Saturday</a>."</p>
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